Brief Thoughts: Us (2019)

Brief Thoughts: Us (2019)


Loved (most of) the first half of Jordan Peele’s US, including a measured, haunting prologue and a terrific home invasion sequence that hints at an uncanny and dread familial mythology. Was disappointed by a second half that, despite some striking imagery, explodes the mystery in service of messy metaphor and rushed storytelling. It’s all anchored by a marvellous twinned performance by Lupita Nyong’o (I pray her immense talent won’t be wasted by Hollywood on just blockbusters in the years to come), whose Adelaide/Red is a pivot around which Peele’s admirable ambition unspools a blood-red yarn that swallows the more intimate tale of two twinned families for an unwieldy, apocalyptic national myth that, for me, didn’t land.

It’s like the intimate familial doppelganger thriller movie that US unfolds as for the first 40 mins or so saw itself in the mirror, and spawned a doppelganger of itself that went berserk with a thesis justifying the existence of doppelgangers. The cast and score (by Michael Abels) are perfection across both the movie’s shadow selves, though. There’s undoubtedly a rich bedrock here for all manner of critical unpacking and writing, and it deserves to be seen and discussed widely (I’m very glad for its resounding box-office success), but it lacks the cohesive, immediate resonance of Peele’s beloved debut GET OUT. I look forward to whatever Peele does next in film (already very psyched and ready for his upcoming TV projects), though I hope the pressure of expectations now mounting on him doesn’t lead him down more rushed paths. Take your time, Mr. Peele, we’re not going anywhere.

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